"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less
traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
PRINCE OF DREAMS
by Jo Ellen Stein
In the dream he was floating, waiting, hoping for a glimpse of
her face. He had seen her many times before, but only in dreams.
In the beginning, years ago, he always dreamed about her as a
princess in a palace. She was young, and so was he, and they
played together in the castle halls of his dreams. There, none
could tell them it was improper, and rush them off to pursue
"boy's" and "girl's" tasks.
The dreams changed with time. He never had the same dream twice,
but the feeling that he saw his destiny in his sleep was always
unshakeable. That feeling frightened him as nothing in his life
ever had: Never had he been so sure about anything or wanted it
At first, he thought himself foolish for thinking such thoughts
about a dream woman. How could he be silly enough to fall in love
with someone he had never met in the flesh? He had no proof that
she existed. At first he thought that it could in fact be that he
was simply feeling the need of a woman. But once he had quenched
that thirst (with great pleasure), the dreams still came,
stronger and more insistent than ever. He became more and more
sure that his dream woman was real, and that he could not rest
until he found her. After years of living with her image, there
was no doubt in his mind that he needed to find her to quell the
strange restless longing feeling in his heart.
In other times and places, this would not have been such a
monumental problem, but this was not the first time Vincent had
gone off to chase the rainbows in his dreams, and he knew that
the King, his father, had a royal alliance in mind for him.
Simply put, the King wanted his son to settle down so he could
stop worrying about him.
In the dream, though, none of that mattered, and he watched as
his beloved Snow White (he had named her so for her beautiful
white skin) served her dwarven roommates in ways he would never
have invented in his wildest imaginings. As he watched, he found
his heart and his body becoming more and more hungry to be with
her, whoever and wherever she was. After serving her companions
dinner, she served them in other ways. He noticed that as she
served them, there was a happiness in her eyes - she served out
of love and genuine affection, not out of obedience. When the
dwarves were not in his visions, and she was alone, she was as
free-spirited as a child, running and laughing in the forest with
her animal friends. Most of all, he saw, she loved her feathered
friends, and would talk to them about taking flight to some
distant land. He fell in love with her all over again every time
he watched her pet and soothe a wild fawn or tame a fierce
When he woke the next morning, he lay in bed for a long time
thinking; so long that his servants began to bang on his door,
asking if he was all right, worried at his staying abed so much
later than usual. He searched for reasons to stay at the palace,
but he found he had none left that were strong enough to keep him
there. The day after that he set out to see if he could find her.
He tried to reassure himself that he had really only set out in
search of adventure, that it was okay if he didn't find her, but
he knew in his heart that once he started the search, he would
never be able to stop until she was in his arms, and he trembled
with the thought of how empty and obsessed his life would be if
he failed to find her. At any rate, he told himself, the search
for her was a convenient way to talk his parents into allowing
him to wander again. It was well known that Vincent's dreams were
often shades of the real world, and the kingdom often profited
from his journeys to pursue them. If the woman was not real, he
reasoned, then she must be a part of himself, enticing him to
wander among the trees and creatures of the forest for some
reason he could not fathom until he set out to answer her call.
In either case, it seemed much more likely that he would resolve
his dilemma by traveling than by staying at home.
His father had been resigned. "Where are you going this time?"
he asked, "Is this another one of your wild goose-chases?".
"I need to get away from the castle for a while, Father",
Vincent had replied, "I have some things to resolve in my mind."
"It's those dreams again, isn't it son? Are you sure this time?
The last time I let you chase after a dream, I had to send
Valiant out to ransom you from King Waldo for poaching ten of his
prize wildebeest. I'm still trying to live down the infamy!"
"Which resulted in all parties becoming friends, and a new
alliance with Waldo, after I was able to cure the sickness in the
rest of his herd. As I told you then, I wasn't poaching them, I
was only isolating diseased animals so that the disaster would
not spread." "Humph", his father replied, "and I suppose you're
going to give me that cockamamy story about invisible creatures
causing disease again. I've never heard such a load of cow dung
in my life. I warn you - this had better not simply be a case of
your libido leading you to kidnap some powerful man's wife or
daughter. The last thing I need is a war on my hands! Powerful
desire is not such an unusual thing, you know, it just has
happened later for you than for most men. Actually, I'm a bit
relieved. Your mother and I were beginning to worry that you were
going to turn out like your uncle Leo and begin turning your
attentions to the stable boys."
"As I've told you before father, that is not a worry. I prefer
painted ladies that are ladies..." Vincent sighed. His uncle's
penchant for men dressed as women was a huge thorn in his
father's side. "Perhaps on your way back you would consider
stopping in to pay court to the princess Tira? That is if you
don't find this mystery woman. If you were to marry Analyn's
daughter, it would be a powerful alliance." For a moment, the
king was far, far away, contemplating a possible future of ease
"I'm sorry, Father, I cannot sell my soul and my freedom to make
your kingdom strong, it would kill me." That is, if making love
with Tira didn't, he thought. The mere thought of her pimply
skin, her stringy blond hair, her high whining voice...oh, he had
to stop, he thought, before he made himself sick.
Vincent had taken leave of his father that day, feeling that he
had done enough explaining to last him a lifetime. His mother's
pleas, however, were not so easily dismissed. She was closer to
"I am afraid that I will never see you again", she had said, "I
have seen my death this autumn, and I want to be sure that I have
passed on everything I can to you." His mother's family was well
known for its knowledge of visions, dreams, and potions, passed
down through the women in each generation. It had been a great
disappointment to his mother that she had borne no female
children, and she had broken tradition by teaching the arts to
her son. "I am counting on you to pass the knowledge of visions
and the healing arts on to your daughters."
"If I ever have any", he had snorted. "I am approaching despair,
Mother. No matter how many women I come to know or spend time
with, I cannot get Snow White out of my mind. In the state I'm
in, marriage to anyone but her would be an incredible farce.
Besides", he said, forcing himself to be cheerful for a moment,
"with any luck I will find her and be back in time to see you off
to the next world. At any rate, I cannot forestall your death if
it has already been decided in your mind, and I see it has. Have
you made the necessary preparations?"
"Yes. But I am afraid that they will not be carried out as I
wish - you know how your father feels about my ways. He may just
throw up his hands in despair and have me planted in the
churchyard to please the bishop. Besides, things are a lot more
exciting when you're here - you could help me wring the last bit
of lifeblood from this old body of mine." She said mischievously.
Funny, Vincent thought, she had always acted as though she
greatly disapproved of the trickster in his soul. It made him
love her even more to discover that she took delight in even that
part of him.
"Don't worry mother, our physicians have heeded your lessons in
healing and burial customs well, perhaps even as well as I." His
eyes twinkled with amusement for a moment as he remembered the
time that he and his mother had healed a young girl that the
palace physicians had pronounced dead and begun to bury, when it
was really just a simple case of poisoning. The physicians'
chagrin over that incident had finally forced them to acknowledge
his mother's superior skills. "They can care for you as well as I
can, now.", he said with tenderness in his eyes. "I really must
leave right away. My dreams tell me that Snow is in great
"I know you're right Vincent, I am old and I have many friends
who will respect my wishes when the time comes, but I cannot help
but wish for you to be here. You always were my favorite, Goddess
knows why!" She chuckled, remembering the mischief he had caused
throughout his childhood, and even into his young adulthood, then
suppressed a cough as the laughing irritated her tired lungs.
"Do you really think she exists? You don't just think this is
all wishful thinking?"
"As I told you before, my son, I can see her as clearly in my
waking visions as you do in your dreams. I think anything is
possible when true love is the issue," she said. "If this woman
is real, then you are right, you must try to help her. Even now I
sense a great danger drawing nearer to her, but I cannot see what
And so he had packed up his important possessions and set off to
explore the great forest.
Now he drowsed by his campfire in that half dream state and
watched Snow in her after-dinner ritual with the dwarves. It was
sweet, really, the way that she loved them all so. Each one
received a kiss, an embrace, a caress from her. Vincent could see
in the dream that the dwarves wanted her as their wife, and that
they intended to keep her there with them. It was their way, he
knew, to love anyone or anything that gave them material comfort
in this world.
Vincent's heart began to ache. Snow seemed so happy there with
the dwarves. They gave her food, shelter, even precious gems on
occasion, the fruits of their daily labors in the mines. She had
all the security she could wish for with them. How could he think
that, if he found her, she would leave all that for him? He was,
he admitted to himself, quite a scoundrel, with a reputation for
recklessness and trouble making. In truth, even Analyn's
revolting daughter would not have him, no matter how many visits
he paid to her castle. He was well known as an unreliable person,
and as a poor husband prospect.
Vincent sighed, feeling quite sorry for himself. It wasn't like
him to feel this way about a woman. He had tried to deny it for a
long time, but now that he was actually here searching for her,
he knew that he was in love. He watched her night after night,
saw how beautiful she was, how sensual, how she created beauty
wherever she went, and ached for her.
Now here he was, lying on the forest ground in the middle of the
night, with a rock poking into his back, feeling a little
foolish. It never occurred to him to feel scared when he saw the
It started as a faint sighing of the breeze that continued to
rise in intensity. At first he ignored the sound, but then he
began to see a form in front of him, a young girl who could have
been the woman in his dreams when she was much younger. She
drifted toward him swiftly, and Vincent was intrigued.
"Do I know you, my lady?" he asked the figure. It seemed merely
to sigh in return.
"Are you real, or merely another figment of my overactive
imagination?" he continued. "I admit I am somewhat filled with
ennui here in the forest, but I cannot believe I would conjure up
yet another dream woman to entertain myself when I already have
my hands filled with one."
The creature then looked down at him. She seemed surprised. "You
can see me?" she asked, "No one has been able to see me in a long
time, not since the invaders came," she said wistfully.
"How long have you been here in the woods?", he asked.
"Forever," she replied, "These woods are my home."
He got to his feet, intrigued by this presence that stood before
him. It seemed somehow familiar, but he could not say why. "Why
are you here though? Who are you?" he asked. "How did you come to
live here in the woods?"
"I am one form of that which your mother would call the goddess.
My name is Morgan."
"I must have finally gone off the deep end," he muttered to
himself. The dreams and this journey have made me as mad as a
"I know of your visions, young prince," she said. "It was I who
sent them to you. Snow has so far done well on her path, but the
next test may require your help, for in the fabric of the
universe, love is the most powerful force. The dwarves and her
stepmother love her well, but they may not be able to bring her
back from her next journey, for her heart has been aching for
you, and she may have no desire to live without you. She has
already had two close calls with death."
Vincent sank to the ground with an ungraceful thud, holding his
head in his hands. "Everything you're telling me makes sense," he
moaned, "it's just getting harder for me to see the line between
dreams and waking these days. It seems to get thinner as time
passes. I thought she was in danger, but I had no idea the
situation was so grave," he broke off, then burst out laughing at
his own pun, easing the tension in his chest, which had
constricted painfully at the thought that Snow might die before
he could find her.
"This is no laughing matter!" Morgan said, and her green eyes
flashed against her dark hair. If you do not reach her by
tomorrow's sunset, it will be too late to reverse the poison."
"Poison!" he shouted. "I thought you said this was a test! What
has poison got to do with testing?"
"The poison is also a powerful drug, designed to induce visions.
As always with such things, there is some risk involved. Those
who cannot grasp or endure the visions die. This particular drug
induces visions of the present, and it is killing her because the
present does not contain you. Snow is dying at this very moment,
sealed within a crystal coffin."
"So what I dreamed has already come to pass", he said. "It is
already too late."
"Not if you hurry", the apparition said, "but you must be at the
top of that mountain by tomorrow sunset, for that is where she
Vincent looked at the vision with disbelief. She had pointed to
Mount Nigel, so named because he was the only human to ever have
climbed it, and he had perished upon his return. It was said that
no human could climb the mountain and live, that the gods would
not permit it.
Slowly, he began to smile. Just such a challenge was exactly
what he had been looking for. He began to feel very excited, and
to plan his assault on the mountain.
"My lady", he said, "I will climb that mountain and save her
tomorrow, or I will die trying."
"That's what I had hoped - and feared," she said. "Remember
Vincent, you are special to me because you are one of very few
men who has learned my secrets of healing and visions and used
them for good." Then, with a waft of the chill night breeze, she
Vincent left immediately for the mountain. He knew that if he
had only until nightfall the next day to save her, he had better
A few hours later, Prince Vincent sat at the foot of the
mountain, disconsolately wondering how he was ever going to pull
this off. He sat and thought for many hours, because he knew that
he would never make it to the top of the mountain with sheer
physical strength. No, he needed a plan, a clever idea. Suddenly
he heard an owl screaming overhead. That's odd, he thought, what
is an owl doing here in broad daylight? Wait a minute, he
thought, if he could fly to the top of the mountain, he could be
there well ahead of the sunset deadline. He had already gathered
the plants that his healer's training told him should be able to
reverse the effects of the poison his earlier vision had
described. He just needed to get there.
Suddenly he stood, and gave the owl a call that his mother,
Maia, had taught him. The call was similar to that of a female
owl calling to her mate, but was modified to lure and then soothe
the animal, instead of inflaming it. In a flash, a flock of owls
was circling over his head. How strange, he thought, owls do not
fly in flocks. But his need for their assistance was greater now
than any need to question their behavior.
The flock landed, one by one, so that they were around him in a
circle. One particularly large, battered looking bird stepped
forward, and using great effort to overcome the lulling effects
of the song said:
"Please, cease the magic song, for we will help you willingly.
We are great friends of Snow's, and we have just come from her
coffin, where the seven dwarves and the forest itself weep for
"The goddess has asked us to carry you to her on our own backs,
something we have never done for any human. Quickly, bring your
medicines and come!"
And so Vincent lowered himself onto the backs of a hundred owls,
and they soared into the air with dizzying speed. As he looked
down, the meadow where he had been standing became no larger than
the head of pin, and then he was forced to look at something
else, for the foot of the mountain had disappeared from sight and
he was feeling a little dizzy from the height.
Vincent laughed with the exhilaration of flight. Never before
had he felt so free, so uninhibited. Suddenly he knew that this
was where he belonged, flying through the skies, like the wind
itself, unfettered and free. He realized that the search for this
feeling was one reason for his wandering the forests and the
countryside near his castle for most of his young life. Someday,
he vowed, he would learn the secret of flight.
Just as he was beginning to relax a little, they arrived at Snow
White's coffin, and as he stood looking down at her, he was faced
with the reality of her situation. With his first glimpse of her
face, his feelings for her hit him in the chest like a burning
arrow, and he staggered like a man who had been mortally wounded.
He loved this woman beyond all reason, a new thing for him. He
could not explain it, which bothered him even more. Everything
had a rational explanation, he thought fiercely, everything!
Perhaps some witch had put a spell on him, he thought
desperately, or perhaps he was merely feeling ill from something
he had eaten the night before. But he knew it wasn't true, and he
admitted to himself once again that the unthinkable thing had
happened to him - he had fallen in love.
Slowly he moved toward her coffin, gazing longingly at her face,
when he was intercepted by a sharp rap on the shin.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing!" a deep, crabby-sounding
He felt another jab from behind. "Yeah, get back! This is a
Finally, Vincent had the sense to look down, and found he was
looking straight into the upturned faces of three very angry
"Ah," he said, "You must be three of the famous seven dwarves."
"It is true," one of them said proudly, "We are known far and
wide for the singular beauty of our priceless gems."
"That's beside the point," said another, "You're an intruder on
our private land. What gives you the right to be here?"
"The goddess Morgan sent me here to save your beautiful friend,"
Vincent replied, "and I am in love with her." Either one of those
reasons would be enough in any other situation, Vincent thought,
but he could see that more than such flimsy reasons would be
required of him by this pragmatic trio.
"Oh sure," the third dwarf snorted, "everybody's in love with
her." They just want to get their slimy hands on her so they can
have some kinky sex. Everybody's fantasy, the woman who can't
resist them. You wouldn't believe how many men are in love with
her!" he laughed.
Vincent found himself growing angry. "You fool," he said, "I can
help her. I am trained in the ways of herbs and potions. I can
undo what has been done to her, but you have to trust me."
"Why should we?" the first dwarf asked. "You don't especially
look like the trustworthy sort."
"Please believe me," Vincent said, "I have been dreaming about
Snow since I was a little boy. Finally the dreams became so
disturbing that I knew I had to try to find her, and help her. I
saw in my dreams how her life was endangered, by what I now
suspect were the tests of the goddess. Four times: First by her
wandering in the forest; second, by being laced with a magic
bodice ribbon; third, by having her hair braided with a poisoned
comb; and last, by eating a bite of poisoned apple."
"I have until sunset to help her," he continued, "and then it
will be too late. Right now she is barely alive. It is the poison
of the apple that makes her appear to be dead. With the herbs I
have gathered on the way to the mountain, I should be able to
"And when you have cured her," the third dwarf asked, "will you
take her away from us?" and a tear hovered in his eye.
"Only if she wishes it," Vincent said. "Only if she no longer
wants this life. For me, I am perfectly content to remain here
and learn the secret of flight, and the secrets of the forest."
"Then do what you must," said the first dwarf, and they stood
back to make room for the prince.
Quickly, for the sun was getting dangerously close to its lowest
limit in the western sky, Vincent mixed a potion over the small
campfire that the dwarves had already lit for warmth. As the last
rays of the orange sun shone through the forest leaves, he opened
the coffin and lifted her head, intending to administer the
Overcome by his feelings for her, he impulsively lowered his
lips to hers and kissed her long and passionately, thinking to
himself that the dwarves were now probably regretting their
decision to let him near her, probably convinced he was indeed
the sex maniac they had feared he was. But as he kissed her, he
noticed that there was an obstruction in her mouth. When he
opened her mouth he saw there a chunk of the offending poisoned
apple. He quickly took a small sip of the potion himself, to
prevent the apple's powerful poison from affecting him. Then as
he prepared to remove the apple from Snow's mouth, her eyes
opened, her mouth opened, and the apple fell out of its own
Quickly, before she could swoon again, he gave her the potion to
drink. As she drank, the roses returned to her lips and her
cheeks, and, unbelievably, she was even more beautiful than he
had ever seen her.
"I'm so glad you're finally here," she said, "I've been dreaming
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.